Tuesday 29 November 2016

Christian Reflection on Chastity

The latest issue of Christian Reflection, published by the Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University, is available online, this one devoted to ‘Chastity’. The whole issue is available as a pdf here, and an accompanying Study Guide is available here. The main articles, with their abstracts, are as follows:

Robert B. Kruschwitz
At the heart of Christian sexual ethics is not a dour set of rules, but a fetching trait: the virtue of chastity. Our contributors examine how chastity is exemplified in married life and singleness, and why its beauty has become difficult for us to appreciate. 

Beth Felker Jones
Radical Faithfulness
Christians have always acknowledged two routes for embodying faithfulness in the way we have sex or do not have sex, two routes for publicly declaring – and displaying – that God is faithful: celibate singleness and faithful marriage. In both conditions, Christians testify, with their bodies, to the power of God. 

Wesley Hill
The Long Defeat
Within a sexually-sodden culture, the life of chastity may seem like a lonely, long defeat, especially to gay and lesbian believers. How can congregations provide the good company which celibate, same-sex attracted believers need for their Christian pilgrimage? 

Matt Fradd
Chastity as a Virtue
Chastity is not a teeth-gritting ability to avoid violating the sexual rules but a habit of reverence for oneself and others that enables us to use our sexual powers intelligently in the pursuit of human flourishing and happiness.

Donna Freitas
A Good Samaritan Response to Hookup Culture
What college students living within hookup culture need most is a listening and sympathetic ear. They need someone who sees them for who and where they really are, and who sympathizes with their uncertainties, their confusion, and, sometimes, their regret and loss. 

Stacy Keogh George
Beyond the “Ring by Spring” Culture
The “ring by spring” culture at Christian colleges and universities can pressure students to become engaged or to marry before they graduate. This may muddle their perceptions of marriage and vocation, and deflect them from receiving more formative preparation for marriage. 

Terry W. York and Kurt Kaiser
Intense the Love God Molded

Amber Inscore Essick
Worship Service

Heidi J. Hornik
Mary’s Worthy Suitor
Raphael, Marriage of the Virgin

Heidi J. Hornik
Love in Control
Sandro Botticelli, Pallas and the Centaur

Heidi J. Hornik
A Couple’s Intimacy
Rembrandt van Rijn, Portrait of a Couple as Isaac and Rebekah 

Other Voices

Mary S. Hulst
Relationships with “More than Friends”
Mary Hulst’s college students, like all of us, are regularly exposed to many lies about dating, singleness, sex, and marriage. Walking with them through the basics of why to date, how to date, and who to date, she counters some of these lies with the truths of the gospel.

Lauren Taylor
Sexuality and Spirituality in American Adolescents
Both adults and young people are hesitant to discuss the topic of faith and sexuality. Research in the three books reviewed here suggests ways to address this silent stand- off, bridge the generation gap, and start the conversation.

Julie Morris
Christian Sexual Ethics in an Age of Individualism
On the surface the three books reviewed here are about sexual behavior, but on a deeper level they address healthy and holy relationships with self, others, and God. The authors care deeply about community and intimacy and about how to cultivate them in a culture that promotes disposable relationships.

Monday 28 November 2016

James K.A. Smith on the Spiritual Power of Habit

I wrote the following mini review for EG, the quarterly magazine produced by the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

James K.A. Smith, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2016)

Written with verve, and with insight on every page, this is a distillation of work published more fully elsewhere, but all the more useful for the conciseness of its expression here.

According to Smith, who and what we worship shapes our lives. We’re defined not by what we know but by what we desire, and what we desire is formed by habits acquired over time through routines and rituals. Smith helps us recognise the shaping power of everyday culture (his analysis of the shopping mall is brilliant) and shows how being immersed in the practices of Christian worship recalibrates our hearts in ways that are directed towards God and his kingdom.

This is indispensable reading for anyone interested in the overlapping circles of worship, church, discipleship, spiritual formation, and living well in today’s world.

Thursday 24 November 2016

Life on Mission

This article was first published in the September 2016 edition of EG, the quarterly magazine of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

As a young Christian lad, it was easy to be inspired by stories of William Carey, one of the first western missionaries to India, often seen as a pioneer of the modern Christian missionary movement. It wasn’t just his desire to bring the good news about Jesus to people who might otherwise not hear it. I was also struck by his work as a translator and publisher – of the Bible, yes, but of Indian literature, grammars, and dictionaries too. He also campaigned for agriculture reform, introduced savings banks to tackle the lending of money at excessive interest, founded dozens of schools for boys and girls of all castes, started a newspaper, pioneered lending libraries, and more besides. All of these activities I could see as flowing out of his faith in Christ.

But it was all something that happened ‘over there’, not ‘over here’. And it was about what someone else was called to do, not what I might be able to do. It has taken some shifts in my own understanding to see mission as being ‘from everywhere to everywhere’ and as involving every one of God’s people, in every situation of life.

Where do we start? Right where we are.

Our Missional Context

In their book, Everyday Church, Tim Chester and Steve Timmis invite us to imagine that we wake up one day to discover we’re missionaries in a foreign land, where the language, culture, worldview, and values are unfamiliar to us. In such circumstances, we’d have to get to know the people and their customs. More than just learning a new language in order to communicate, we’d want to be able to connect with people at a relational level. We’d need to explore how the Bible and its message of good news interacts with the outlook and way of life of our friends and neighbours.

But here’s the thing: this is the context in which we find ourselves! We are in a ‘missionary’ situation, with the need to take on the posture and practices of missionaries in order to engage others with the good news about Jesus.

In part, then, being a missionary follower of Jesus involves understanding the context in which we live. This includes the macro context in which the church no longer has a privileged place in society, where religion has been reduced to the private realm, where God is viewed as a personal lifestyle choice. But it also includes any number of micro contexts, the places we find ourselves every day – this workplace, this family, this street, this neighbourhood, this town. And we get to know the people in those places – their stories, their values, their worldview, the things they hold dear. For it’s only as we do so that we’ll be able to use the language and categories of our culture in a way that presents Christ as the one who subverts but also supremely fulfils the fundamental commitments and aspirations of the culture.

We do this not by cutting ourselves off from our neighbours or colleagues, but by living out something of our missional identity as those sent by God himself.

The Missional God

For yes, we are sent. Except that it’s all too easy to focus on the ‘command’ element of the commission passages in the gospels without noticing the promises which accompany them, promises which reflect God’s amazing plan for the world.

Mission doesn’t start with Christ’s commission to ‘make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:19). It has always been God’s mission to bless all nations. We see it in his original design for creation, in his promises to Abraham, and his calling of Israel – later reiterated through the servant figure in Isaiah who is chosen to be a light to the nations (Isaiah 43:10; 49:5-6). So it is that Jesus tells his disciples after his resurrection that the Scriptures promise not only that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise again, but that repentance and forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name to all nations (Luke 24:45-48). The biblical story both points to Christ as the one who stands at the centre of it and nurtures the missional identity of the disciples as they take their place ‘as witnesses of these things’ in the forward movement of that story, God’s ongoing plan for the world.

This is the unfinished story Luke starts to tell in Acts, which begins with a restatement of the disciples as Jesus’ witnesses. Here too, Acts 1:8 – ‘you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ – is not a command so much as a declaration, a promise even. In line with Isaiah’s prophecy, they are God’s ‘witnesses’, the servant community who will bring the message of salvation not just to Israel but to the ‘ends of the earth’.

For us too, our mission is an extension of God’s mission, and being witnesses is less an assignment and more an identity – the overflow of the gift of grace to us and, amazingly, the means by which God reaches others.

A Missional People

All of this suggests that mission is not an optional activity we do, or that some of us do, but an integral part of what it means to belong to the body of Christ, a people who exist for the sake of the world.

It’s in this light that we best understand how the life and ministry of the local church fit into God’s mission. Like the rhythm of breathing in and out, our ‘gathering’ and ‘scattering’ go together. One of the outcomes of our participation in the practices of the gathered church – in worship and fellowship, in prayer and preaching, in bread and wine – is to be formed and equipped to be God’s scattered people on our everyday frontlines, the multiple spheres and arenas in which we live and work.

It’s precisely in those sorts of places that Christians through the centuries have evangelised others, in a way that’s organic and relational, which extends over time, which may nudge someone towards Christ through any number of mini-decisions. But the mandate to make disciples means not only bringing people to faith but nurturing their growth in relationship with God and others, and teaching them obedience to Jesus in every area of life. And this is exactly as it should be, for the gospel is the announcement of God’s kingly rule over all things. ‘Your God reigns’, declares the herald of Isaiah (52:7), redeeming men and women, yes, but also restoring all creation.

Seen this way, evangelism is not a ‘bolt on’ Christian activity, but is organically connected to the whole of life – a fusion of presence and proclamation, the message of our lips matching the message of our lives – the outflowing of who we are in Christ, equipped and sent by him as witnesses in his ongoing mission to the world.

Going Further

Mission Matters: Love Says Go
Tim Chester (IVP, 2015)
With a focus on world mission, the book unfolds in four parts, looking at the God of mission, the story of mission, the scope of mission, and the challenges of mission.

Introducing Christian Mission Today: Scripture, History and Issues
Michael W. Goheen (IVP, 2014)
A large but accessible textbook, which provides a great introduction to key concepts and conversations in mission.

The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission
Christopher J.H. Wright (Zondervan, 2010)
Sees mission as the all-encompassing purpose of God to restore creation – which embraces all that his people are called to be and do in the world.

The Whole of Life for Christ: Enriching Everyday Discipleship
Antony Billington & Mark Greene (IVP, 2015)
‘Life on Mission’ is one of several themes explored in this book. Produced in partnership with Keswick Ministries, the seven Bible studies offer individuals and groups the opportunity to explore whole-life discipleship more deeply.

Tuesday 22 November 2016

Centre for Public Christianity (November 2016)

Among other items of interest, the Centre for Public Christianity has posted an audio interview on the science behind gender identity and the experience of being transgender, and a video interview with American theologian William Cavanaugh on the popularity of Donald Trump, recorded in July before Trump’s election win.

Monday 21 November 2016

Crucible 7, 2 (November 2016)

The latest issue of Crucible, published by the Australian Evangelical Alliance and largely produced by the faculty of the Australian College of Ministries, is now available online here, with the below articles (abstracts included, where available).

The Cauldron: peer reviewed articles

Andre van Oudtshoorn
Love Child: The use of 1 Corinthians 13 beyond its original context and intent
In this article, I use the metaphor of the family to explore the potential of 1 Corinthians 13 to transcend its original purpose and context and participate as the living Word of God across different contexts and for different purposes. I argue that a text is born through the integration of a textual-Father (the implied author's purpose), and a contextual-Mother (the implied context). While many post-modern scholars argue that a text should be viewed as an orphan without any roots to the author or original context, I show that love in 1 Corinthians 13 has its own unique character which enables it to transcend its original context and purpose without losing its identity as the offspring of a particular textual-Father and a particular contextual-Mother. I argue that love is characterised by the way it operates within the eschatological tension between the already and the not yet within the church and also in the realm of epistemology.

Dean Smith
Growing pains: a reflection on the experience of suffering accompanying an epistemological crisis
The experience of suffering is ubiquitous and often the subject of attention by pastoral practitioners and theologians alike. The particular kind of suffering that is addressed in this paper is the suffering accompanying an epistemological crisis. For one facing such a crisis, the traditional schema of interpretation has broken down irremediably in highly specific ways, to the point where not only individual beliefs, but the entire belief system, fails to provide the explanatory power it once did. In other words, the world no longer makes sense. For a person facing such a crisis the loss of meaning and the inability to make sense of their world and their life can be experienced as intense suffering that inevitably has broader implications than those of a purely individual nature such as psychological, emotional and intellectual. For as Alasdair MacIntyre acknowledges an epistemological crisis is always a crisis in human relationships. In this paper I explore the notion that if properly understood within the context of normal faith development as outlined by James Fowler, an epistemological crisis can be interpreted as the growing pains signalling personal development and maturity. Such an interpretation may not only bring relief to the sufferer but has implications for the broader faith community.

The Test-tube: ministry resources

Craig Tucker
To Revitalise or Replant?

Geoff Eggins
The Viability of Missional Small Groups in Australian Churches
This article and associated research discusses the legitimacy of the use of missional small groups in the Australian context. Firstly, it overviews the use of missional small groups in the New Testament. Secondly, investigates the perceptions of the church in the Australian culture. Thirdly, it offers a brief evaluation of where the missional church movement is up to in the Australian Church. Fourth, examples of the historic use of missional small groups are given in order to discern their validity and usefulness in other contexts. Fifth, a survey and associated analysis is undertaken to discern their current scope of use in the Australian context. This survey then informs the discussion with contextually relevant information. Finally, based on the above elements, a recommendation that Australian churches should pursue missional small groups is given, along with recommendations about how to help that happen.

The Filter: book reviews

Wednesday 16 November 2016

William Edgar on a Biblical Theology of Culture

William Edgar, Created and Creating: A Biblical Theology of Culture (Downers Grove: IVP, forthcoming 2017).

I’m looking forward to seeing the above book come out some time early in the new year. Meanwhile, to whet the appetite, there is a downloadable page of Q&A on ‘Culture, Christianity, Calling’ with William Edgar here.

‘Culture plays an undeniable role in the Christian’s vocational calling in the world. How might we engage our culture with discernment and faithfulness? Exploring Scripture and gleaning insights from a variety of theologians, William Edgar offers a biblical defense of the cultural mandate, arguing that we are most faithful to our calling when we participate in creating culture.’

Monday 14 November 2016

Ethics in Brief Volume 21, Nos. 5 & 6 (2016)

Two issues from Volume 21 of Ethics in Brief, published by The Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics, are now available online:

This paper reflects the rise of ‘fundamental British values’ as a core part of the Government’s counter-extremism strategy. It identifies several problems with the idea of FBVs, and suggests that we need to recover the concept of civic loyalty instead. It is appropriate to promote this through education, which should in part seek to form pupils and students into virtuous citizens.

[From the Conclusion:] Offering an original and carefully constructed theology of dementia, Memories is essential reading for academic and pastoral work on disability and anthropology. Swinton effectively shows why the church should care about people living with dementia, and how it can care well. God, he emphasises, cares because he remembers persons as they were, are and will be, holding their reality in his hands and cherishing each moment of joy and sorrow. Remembering, for God, is purposeful and powerful; his memory is the foundation of humanity and each human life. Inspired by such a vision, the book moves us cognitively beyond narrow conceptions, emotively beyond apathy, and practically into action.

Saturday 12 November 2016

Fides et Humilitas 3 (2016)

Fides et Humilitas appears to be published annually by the Center for Ancient Christian Studies, which ‘exists to provide an evangelical voice to the academic fields engaging ancient Christian literature’.

The contents of volume 3, and the abstracts where available, are as follows:

Coleman M. Ford and Shawn J. Wilhite
Editorial: An “Unspeakably Narrow Discipline”: Martin Hengel and the Need for Interdisciplinary Scholarship

Ancient Figure Highlight

Ian Clary
Ignatius of Antioch: Bishop, Theologian, and the Apologist of Life and Death


Michael A.G. Haykin
Inspiration and Inerrancy in the Ancient Church

Patrick Schreiner 
Number Symbolism and the Feeding of the Four Thousand in the Gospel of Matthew
This study argues that the feeding of the 4,000 in Matthew 15:32–39 should be read as a Gentile feeding. There are a number of arguments that support this reading (structurally, geographically, thematically, and OT background), but the most debated aspect is the role of the numbers 4,000 and seven. These numbers have been interpreted symbolically throughout the history of interpretation but in the time of the Reformation an allegorical reading of numbers began to be rejected. The number 4,000 should be understood representing people coming from the four corners of the earth, and seven points to the completion and fulfillment of God’s purposes. By seeing these numbers as symbolic, the argument that this is a Gentile feeding becomes more secure.

J. Daniel McDonald
The Holy Spirit, Caritas, and the Bond of Unity in Augustine’s Anti-Donatist Writings
Written over a period of twenty years, Augustine’s De Trinitate, one of Augustine’s greatest works, serves as the pinnacle of the development of Trinitarian doctrine in the ancient church. Found within his anti-Donatist writings, however, is a well-developed doctrine of the Trinity. Particularly in De Baptismo contra Donatistas, Contra litteras Petiliani, and Letter 185 (works that were written before the publication of De Trinitate), Augustine links the Holy Spirit as caritas and the bond of unity in the Trinity as the source of unity within the Catholic church. Augustine would later develop an argument identifying the Holy Spirit as caritas and the bond of unity in length in De Trinitate Book XV.5. This indicates that Augustine already had a mature understanding of Trinitarian doctrine early on in his ministry.

Book Reviews

Previous copies of the journal can be found here. Volume 3 can be downloaded as (14.9 MB) pdf here.

Wednesday 9 November 2016

The Bible Project (Again)

I post periodically on the Bible Project, which is continuing to make very helpful and well-produced video overviews of biblical books and biblical themes, occasionally with downloadable notes and questions for small groups.

What I hadn’t clocked until very recently is that, in addition to their ‘Read Scripture’ series covering books from the Old and New Testaments (with the latest videos on Galatians and 2 Corinthians), they are also producing an ‘Animated Series’, which now covers the books of the Torah, three wisdom books (Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes), and one gospel (Mark).

Check out all the videos from here (click on ‘All Videos’ or scroll down the page) or see them all via YouTube here.

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Matthew Y. Emerson on the Book of Revelation

Matthew Y. Emerson, Between the Cross and the Throne: The Book of Revelation, Transformative Word Series (Bellingham: Lexham Press, 2016), 88pp., ISBN 978-1-57799-658-3.

I’ve read a number of the books in Lexham’s ‘Transformative Word Series’, and they’re all good and helpful. They’re short and easy to read. They’re not trying to provide a commentary on the book in question so much as to overview it, point out some of the significant issues involved in its interpretation, and offer some reflections on its ongoing implications.

Matthew Emerson does that really well for Revelation, providing a brief outline of the book and its theological centre (in Jesus who has already won the battle on our behalf and is coming again, which means we can stand firm in the midst of persecution and temptation meanwhile), its genre and literary devices, its place as the culmination of the whole drama of redemption, its portrait of God and his people, and God’s enemies and their final defeat.

Those already familiar with literature on Revelation won’t necessarily pick up anything new, but they’ll be helped by seeing how someone else manages to package it so concisely and well. I can imagine church leaders/preachers benefiting from reading it as part of a process of putting together a series of sermons on Revelation, enabling them to get something of the big picture of the book and a handle on some of the issues involved in its interpretation.

Monday 7 November 2016

Currents in Biblical Research 15, 1 (October 2016)

The latest Currents in Biblical Research recently arrived, with titles and abstracts of the main articles as below.

Eric A. Seibert
Recent Research on Divine Violence in the Old Testament (with Special Attention to Christian Theological Perspectives)
Many readers of the Bible are troubled by passages in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament that portray God behaving violently and commanding others to do likewise. This article offers a survey of various ways contemporary scholars – particularly Christian scholars – have attempted to respond to the moral and theological challenges these troubling texts inevitably raise for modern readers. The contributions considered here are mostly from the past twenty years. Seven different approaches are examined, with special attention given to attempts to defend or critique God’s violent behavior. Brief evaluation of the relative merits of these approaches is offered along the way. A range of theological perspectives is included, and scholars from a number of different academic disciplines are represented. The article’s conviction is that regardless of how these texts are interpreted, readers should not use them to harm others or to justify future acts of violence.

Arthur Keefer
Phonological Patterns in the Hebrew Bible: A Century of Studies in Sound
This article traces the history of scholarship on sound patterns in the Hebrew Bible. Beginning in the nineteenth century, studies devoted to biblical Hebrew phonological patterns or devices entertain questions and debates that continue for over a century. Many works contribute concepts, frameworks, definitions and typologies to the phonic repertoire. Others employ such tools by identifying, organizing and explaining sounds in the biblical texts themselves. These two sides of scholarship – theory and application – characterize the field and include recurring questions of how to classify or define sound patterns, and also how to determine sound’s function. This article attends to the landmark studies and turning points from 1865 to 2015, especially underscoring the various terminologies. It is structured according to key scholars and by decades that share a common approach.

Chris Kugler
Wright, Campbell, and the Four Beasts from the Sea
Having studied with both N.T. Wright and Douglas Campbell, and not least because both are now ‘caught up’ in an apocalyptic standoff, it seemed desirable to lay bare the basic philosophical presuppositions and hermeneutical commitments which undergird and animate their continued disagreements over various issues in Pauline theology. In the following article, both serious and somewhat playful, I have considered four issues of hermeneutical and theological significance – indeed, foundational significance – in the debate between Wright and Campbell. These issues do not fundamentally concern the construal of entire Pauline letters or even Paul’s historical context. Rather, they involve the philosophical presuppositions of history and theology and the relationship between them.

Gregory R. Lanier
Mapping the Vineyard: Main Lines of Investigation Regarding the Parable of the Tenants in the Synoptics and Thomas
The Parable of the Tenants (Mk 12.1-12; Mt. 21.33-45; Lk. 20.9-19; GThom 65–66) is one of the most debated of all the parables ascribed to Jesus. Situated at the intersection of a host of important issues in Gospels scholarship – ranging from the synoptic problem, to the use of the OT in the NT, to the historical Jesus – it has generated a seemingly overwhelming quantity of secondary research in recent decades. This article aims to help orient scholars to the main areas of research on the parable, focusing specifically on six topics: narrative outline, formative influences (social-historical setting and intertextuality), source-critical hypotheses, symbolic/metaphorical correspondences of the narrative elements, authenticity and the ‘original’ version, and broad lines of interpretation. The conclusion offers reflections on what the substantial research on the parable can tell us about parable interpretation in general.

Ole Jakob Filtvedt
‘God’s Israel’ in Galatians 6.16: An Overview and Assessment of the Key Arguments
The article presents and discusses the main arguments that have been used to argue either that non-Jews are included or excluded from God’s Israel. The arguments in favour of the view that non-Jews are excluded focus on: (i) the syntax and translation; (ii) possible influence from a Jewish synagogue prayer; (iii) the combination of the terms ‘mercy’ and ‘Israel’; and (iv) Paul’s regular use of the term ‘Israel’. The arguments for the view that non-Jews are included in God’s Israel are: (i) that non-Jewish members of God’s Israel seem to be a possibility in Galatians; (ii) that an exclusively Jewish Israel is theologically impossible in Galatians; (iii) that an exclusively Jewish Israel in Galatians would have been confusing for the addressees; (iv) the fact that Galatians seems to provide insufficient material for deciding which Jews God’s Israel is supposed to denote.

Friday 4 November 2016

Theos Report on Passing on Faith

The latest report from Theos has recently been published:

Here’s the summary blurb:

‘What do parents think about passing on their faith – their beliefs (or lack of them) about God – to their children? How seriously do they take it? And what difference do they make?

Conducted in partnership with Canterbury Christ Church University, Passing on Faith examines these questions through new polling research and a detailed study of academic research into the subject. British parents, the polling shows, are generally not too bothered about whether their children go on to share their beliefs, although that varies – significantly – depending on the faith of the parents in question, with atheist, agnostic, Christian, and other religious parents having some very different views.

The academic literature, in contrast with this, is clear about the impact parents can have. In the first instance, insights from psychology show that children have a natural propensity towards ‘belief’ of some kind. Building on that, and examining and assimilating the findings of 54 published studies, Olwyn Mark shows that the family and the home is incomparably important when it comes to passing on faith.

The role and faith commitment of both parents, and the integrity, consistency and unity of parents’ beliefs, practices and relationships are all shown to be key influencers on whether believing children become believing adults.

Ultimately, for all the effects that cultural pressures or evangelistic measures will have on determining the next generation of believers (and non-believers), parents and home life will consistently have a resounding impact on the passing on of faith.’

A pdf of the full report is available here.

Thursday 3 November 2016

Tim Keller on Making Sense of God

I wrote the following mini review for EG, the quarterly magazine produced by the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Sceptical (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2016)

By Keller’s own admission, this book provides a prequel of sorts to his 2008 best-seller, The Reason for God. The earlier book assumed readers were interested in hearing a rational case for the Christian faith. This one starts further back, arguing that Christianity makes sense not just rationally, but emotionally and culturally too.

Keller is always worth reading, but I think he’s at his best here, winsomely demonstrating how Christianity is more robust than secularism when it comes to meaning, happiness, freedom, identity, hope, morality, and justice. Keller writes with intelligence and elegance, drawing on sources from a variety of fields. His clarity and generosity mean this book could be passed on to an interested but sceptical friend or colleague, but it’s also essential reading for all those who are concerned to communicate the Christian faith well in the age in which we live.

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Mission Frontiers 38, 6 (November-December 2016)

The November-December 2016 issue of Mission Frontiers, published by the U.S. Center for World Mission, contains a number of articles on ‘40 Years of the USCWM/Frontier Ventures and the Unreached Peoples Movement’.

Editor Rick Wood writes:

‘In this issue we pause to look back on the legacy of faithfulness of people like Ralph Winter and others who with vision and passion in their hearts for God’s glory in all peoples, risked so much and worked so hard to launch the USCWM/Frontier Ventures and the unreached peoples movement. They made all the progress of the last 40 years possible. We stand on the shoulders of giants, but in many ways they were just people like us whom God chose to use because of their faithfulness and availability – and God honored their faith. As we seek to reach the unreached peoples in our day, we must believe that the God who was faithful in providing for the Winters will also be faithful in providing for us.

‘What is our identity in Christ? Is it only as sinners saved by the grace of God, who are looking for Jesus to bless our lives here and in the life to come? Or rather, is our identity also tied to the fact that Jesus has given us a mission that all of us have been called to participate in?

‘In order to succeed at reaching the unreached, we must also do ministry the way that Jesus intended. Biologically, the human race survives and grows by way of parents giving birth to children and then raising them to maturity. Likewise, God has designed the Church to grow organically and exponentially by means of well-equipped disciples passing on their faith to others who are also well-trained to make disciples generation after generation.’

Individual articles can be accessed from here, and the whole issue (5.6 MB) can be downloaded as a pdf here.